Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More History in the Making

Well, the Republicans get their turn to convene this week. So far, off to a historic yet rocky and unsettled start. Between not one, not two but FOUR hurricanes to contend with in addition to an unwed pregnant teen and GOP leaders from around the world intentionally skipping their own convention--it has made for the "convention that wasn't."

What is noteworthy from a legitimate perspective however is the guarantee that no matter who wins, we will either have our first African-American President or the Oldest President to assume office and our first Female Vice President.

Just think! If it weren't for Joe Biden, we wouldn't have any run of the mill politicians in the hunt!

Well, maybe "hunt" isn't the word to use. . . Rumor has it Governor Palin is pretty handy in the shotgunning for big game department. Lets just pray her aim and target selection is better than our current Vice President.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

History in the making.

The Democrats have formally selected Senator Barack Obama as their nominee for the office of President of the United States of America.

This is a blog about the City of Long Branch so we will not go into any great detail here other than to point your attention to the new poll and to pause for a moment to honor the historic nature of Obama's nomination. God Bless America!

Friday, August 15, 2008

What do a kitten and Scarlett O'Hara have in common?

Well, look on the bright side. Tomorrow is Saturday and the week will be over.

This hasn’t been the brightest of weeks for the Presidential City, has it? Things went from awful to terrible to insane in very short order this week. Evidence of that was the fact that Fun City was (and will be) a top headline of one type or another very day this week.

One Murder
One Shooting
One Machete-wielding. . . er. . . citizen(?)

. . . and the week ain’t over yet!

So rather than dwelling on the bad, we thought it would be appropriate to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative in the blog. (With all due respect to Bing Crosby.) So here goes. . .



Monday, August 11, 2008

Return of the Bagel Blogger: Recreation Edition

Well, it looks like one of our Guest Bloggers has decided that FaNagle the Bagel is the place to be! We have named this Guest Blogger the BAGEL BLOGGER but we are not sure if it is the same blogger who nailed the DPW truck last week. Stay tuned. . .

Their post follows:

Well, LBA fans, while picking up my dry cleaning this morning at Ursula Plaza I noticed the white Department of Recreation van pulled up, filled with blue shirted recreation employees (seasonal I suppose) and then parked in the fire lane, with the engine running. One after another the employees piled out of the van and into FaNagle the Bagel to order their breakfast sandwiches. After 15 minutes, with breakfast now in their individually wrapped brown bags, the crew piled back on board the still running, still illegally parked city-owned and operated van and went on to what, I suppose, was the destination their supervisor THOUGHT they were headed for no less than 15 minutes earlier.

Being more than a little miffed at this gross waste of city resources I decided to follow along and see what the next destination was. I soon learned, after watching the van make an illegal lane change and no less than three turns without signaling, that the desination was Jerry Morgan Park where, while one employee emptied garbage cans, the remainder of the team of seven or more employees proceeded to take up spots around the fieldhouse to devour their Bagle Bounty.

Since I am retired and on a fixed income, I decided to figure out the cost of this little excursion. I figure a dollar for the gas used to get them there, idle and then on the park, at $7.15 an hour I estimated they cost the city $23.24 in salaries alone (probably more with employer taxes, etc). So more than $25.00 of taxpayer money so the recreation staff could enjoy a nice breakfast on the clock.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bulk Pick Up Problem - Beachfront North

It has come to our attention that the residents of Beachfront North have a recurring problem not getting bulk pickups on bulk pickup days without having to place a call to the DPW office.

While one would think that the city would be going out of its way to keep things perfect down in Shangri-La, apparently the new folks in BFN have the same inconsistent service from the Department of Public Works that the rest of us have.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Joe Ferraina Poll Results

For the last month or so we have asked our readers to reply to a poll on Joe Ferraina. The results:

10% Agree that Joe is a visionary.
77% Believe that Joe should be fired.
3% Believe his salary should be increased
14% Believe his salary decreased.

Thanks for participating and be sure to weigh in on the new poll.

Thoughts on the Eminent Domain ruling

A New Jersey Court of Appeals has ruled that the lower court ruling on eminent domain was partially flawed and partially acceptable—giving us a court decision that is as clear as mud.

The city is claiming that they can offer more proof that the area in question was blighted while the MTOTSA advocates are claiming complete and utter victory and vindication. In reality, the best thing that could happen would be a settlement of the whole matter but the worst case scenario would be an appeal to the NJ State Supreme Court—which isn’t really all that bad of a scenario.

The LBA continues to argue that eminent domain is no longer required because market forces should now be allowed to do what they do. In an earlier post, we said:

Now that the first phases of redevelopment are complete and Pier Village and
Beachfront North are now here, along with a new recession and a slumping housing
market, the real estate market (not eminent domain) should dictate what
properties are sold for and whether they are on the market in the first place.
If redevelopment was successful then the area is no longer blighted and no
longer in need of city-sponsored redevelopment.

So, in the best interests of all parties, the city should be ready to bargain at the table at current market rates if the city feels like they need to be the ones bargaining. More appropriately, however, the developers interested in the land should be the ones at the table ready to bargain at market rates. Most importantly, however, the MTOTSA people need to wake up to the realities of the situation and must be willing to bargain, be willing to sit at the table and be ready to accept current market rates for their property.

The courts did NOT rule that the city was WRONG and that eminent domain is BAD—despite the claims of MTOTSA advocates from around the globe.

If the MTOTSA folks feel like they now have a court endorsed “get out of eminent domain” card they are mistaken.

If the city feels like they can continue to force their will on the entire city for the sole purpose of forcing the successful conclusion of the full redevelopment plan they too are mistaken.

SO, lets all get on the same sheet of music.

City: Be a team player, avoid more discord, make a serious offer appropriate to 2008 market rates. But first, expect the developer to do it instead. The LBA seriously doubts developers are falling all over themselves to build housing right now.

DEVELOPERS: Remember you are dealing with a proud city of residents who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Long after you have made your millions and have left us, the community of citizens will remain here trying to find our little piece of the American Dream.

MTOTSA: Get what you can while you can. Stonewalling is NOT a long term strategy for you. If they offer you money and a home (like they did before) TAKE IT.

In any event, the Long Branch Advocate is pretty sure we haven’t heard the end of this all yet.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Guest Blogger: DPW Breakfast Run Endangers Public Safety?!

Here is another posting from a guest blogger:

Well, since you offered to post our blog reports from around town, here is one for ya.

While getting my coffee at Fanagle the Bagel in ursula Plaza this morning, I had the misfortune to find one of our fine DPW employees ordering his breakfast (pork roll, egg and cheese on a plain bagel with a large coffee) at 8:50 AM.

Sitting at the curb, in the FIRE ZONE, was his truck No. 112, RUNNING with no one else in the truck.

As you may be able to tell from the picture I snapped on my cell phone right before he saw me taking the pic and SPED OFF, there are plenty of spots in the parking lot including the VERY FIRST SPOT in the lot--of course none are quite as convenient as illegally parking in the fire zone out front with your engine running.

I guess DPW has all the money in the world and can afford to leave their trucks running while they enjoy breakfast on city time instead of working.

I wonder if and when this crap will ever end.

I also wonder if the city fathers will ever respond to a post like this. . .

Guess time will tell.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Celebrate your freedom of speech. . .


Lots of great ideas have been submitted for blog topics but we only write when the mood strikes us. . . and when you don't see a post for a few days it is only becuase NONE of us have anything to write about.

SO, feel like blogging about the number of out of state license plates? Send us a posting via email and we will put it up!

Feel like pontificating on why fire prevention cars are allowed to idle outside of the Ocean View Bakery while the city employee grabs lunch? Get it off your chest!

Work for Joe "Mr. Visionary" Ferraina and just can't take it anymore? Now you don't have to!

BUT, if you just love the new fountain at five corners and think we should talk about it, you should write too!

Got a church bazaar you want to publicize, let us know!

Did a secretary at City Hall go out of their way to help you? Tell us so we can honor them!

YOU can be a guest blogger! Drop us an email by clicking here.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Guest Blogger Post RE: Joe Ferraina

Taking us up on our offer to post articles from guest bloggers, the Long Branch Advocate offers the following article received in our email:

Thoughts on recent posts and published articles regarding Joe Ferraina and the LB Board of Education.

Not for nothing, but has anyone considered how many board members' children are employed by the district? In addition, if you consider how JMF is constantly playing musical chairs with administrators AND teachers, you wonder why the schools aren't working (look at Board agendas at the end of every school year with transfers noted). When I was growing up in LB, my siblings and I had the same teachers, the same curriculum, etc.until Middle School, where JMF was already wreaking his havoc as Principal.

Now in Long Branch, the guy has people fearing for their jobs, their children's jobs, etc. You disagree with him, he'll move to an undesirable position. Talk to people who have retired or resigned from key positions in the past five years. That much power doesn't belong in any organization, much less one with the primary objective of educating children. Decisions in that district are wrought with nepotism, rewards for the loyal and punitary action for the defiant. It is sad.

I'm more disgusted with the state of the school system given his obscene compensation than I am with his unethical dealings - but he runs the place like a Mafia Don and the Board does nothing - you wonder if it's out of fear.

When was the last time a Board member voted no on his compensation package or any measure proposed by him? If he's such a visionary, why are our schools failing? Consider the district's scores from the early 90s prior to his promotion to Superintendent -- are they any better or are they worse? If you're going to do some digging, I'd start there.

(Why would I admit who I was? Someone I am barely linked to might lose their job.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Talk about your chickens coming home to roost. . .

According to the Asbury Park Press, Councilman Brian Unger says he is not running for Mayor--at least not "currently" running for Mayor, that is.

Obviously Brian isn't currently running for Mayor. He is clearly eventually running for Mayor. If he wasn't running for Mayor at all he would say, "I am not now, nor will I become, a candidate for the office of Mayor in 2010." But since we all know he is going to run eventually, this APP article begs the question, "Yeah, so?"

On June 2, 2008 the Long Branch Advocate predicted that neither current Mayor Adam Schneider nor Councilman Brian Unger will be Mayor four years from now. No predictions on the election in 2010 mind you (but we don't think either of them will win at this point) but it doesn't matter because it is our prediction that no matter who wins in 2010, neither Schneider nor Unger will be Mayor in 2012.

So if you think this APP article supports our prediction then so be it--we are most assuredly clairvoyant. If you dont think it supports our prediction that is OK with us--we are just simple citizen bloggers. But if you don't think our prediction is accurate, then you just aren't reading your tea leaves properly.

Trust us!

Garbage Cans GALORE!

We have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating since no one at City Hall or in the Department of Public Works seems to care: Garbage cans belong upright and on the curb.

It is a simple enough philosophy, right? On garbage collection days, garbage cans and recycling containers belong upright and on the curb. What is so wrong about that?

Residents are expected to put their cans out after 6:00 PM the night before garbage collection. The cans are to be placed at the curb, lids on, presumably in their upright position, in such a manner that their contents are properly contained therein until such a time as the garbage truck arrives to empty them.

For the most part, citizens comply with the intent, if not necessarily the letter, of the rule.

Enter the Department of Public Works Sanitation Division.

Once the properly placed can has been emptied by the DPW crew all bets are off and our simple philosophy breaks down.

Upon emptying the cans, the DPW crews toss, throw, fling, chuck, slide, hurl, bowl, pitch, heave, lob and otherwise cast aside the cans and containers aside, along and across every street, avenue, boulevard, lane, place, road and right of way in the fair city--but seldomly upright and on the curb.

Nothing is more fun than driving down our city streets taking evasive maneuvers in a slalom of tossed and overturned garbage cans all for want of our DPW staff not caring about the way the city looks.

Which, therefore, begs the question: if the Department of Public Works doesn't care how the city looks, why the hell should anyone else?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Incompetence, Impotence and Baseless Charges

Other bloggers have challenged the Long Branch Advocate (now rated "Favorite" by Sophia's Mom!) to offer hard suggestions on how we could do a better job than Joseph “Mr. Visionary” Ferraina and the Long Branch Board of Education. Despite their preposterous premises that only Mr. Ferraina possesses a gift of management so enlightened and advanced to justify a compensation package of close to a third of a million dollars, the Long Branch Advocate has never shrunk from a challenge, even ones made by anonymous confederates of those doing harm to our community.

So, here goes:

Suggestion No. 1: Never name a school building after yourself or another living person. It invites disaster, puffs egos and belittles the work ethic that an honest day’s work earns one an honest day’s pay.

Suggestion No. 2: When running a major, multi-million dollar, urban, depressed school district, a nationwide search for the best and brightest candidates should be earnestly undertaken to fill vacancies for Superintendent and Principal positions. Internal candidates should only be hired if they are clearly the “best and brightest.” Candidates who do not possess an earned Doctorate in education or other appropriate field should not be considered for the Superintendent’s position or any Principal-level position at the Middle School or High School level.

Suggestion No. 3: Never personally benefit from holding elected or appointed office beyond just compensation due for services rendered. Free meals, trips, cars, drivers, insurance, personal pension plans, reimbursement for health expenses and the like SMACK of unjust compensation or collusion.

Suggestion No. 4: Excellent working relationships with municipal leaders must be developed and maintained at all times—just because the school is not run by the city does not mean that the two should not work as a team.

Suggestion No. 5: Nepotism is bad. Don’t hire your friends or family to positions in the school district and don’t pressure others to do so on your behalf. If a friend or family member is qualified to hold such a position, they will no doubt find work in another district without your intervention—and if they do a good job in that position they will likely hold it for many years without your help.

Then again, if a friend or family member needs your help in order to get a job you probably are doing more harm to society than good by pulling strings to get them public employment.

Suggestion No. 6: Just because you have the money, doesn’t mean you need to spend the money. It is bad enough that we are classified as an Abbott District—don’t make things worse by spending every possible dollar on things that are nice to have but are not required to have. School districts like ours don’t need three or more principals per school and multiple assistant superintendents for every function under the sun—just because you can afford it on the backs of taxpayers outside of the district.

Long Branch is a great town. If our schools and students NEED something, we should pay for it ourselves within our own means. If we are going to spend this kind of money in the schools we should have a better track record (graduation rates, No Child Left Behind ratings) to show for it.

Suggestion No. 7: Debate is good and healthy for democracy. Public discourse on matters of public decisions is imperative for the health of our republic. Dissent in the media or by members of the pubic should be actively engaged by those elected and appointed to offices of public trust—NOT crushed. Hiring local reporters and dissenters to silence all questions and commentary is contrary to the democratic ideal.

Having said that, this blog was silenced for a time due to the volume and variety of threats and challenges made by supporters of the people and programs we questioned online. We were guilty of silence when challenged once—but won’t be twice.

Suggestion No. 8: Publicly advertise the means and methods for citizens interested in running for seats on the Board of Education when the time for nominations arrives in the winter. Incumbents should not hide from competition. . . and the Board Secretary should not dodge responsibility for promoting participatory democracy.

Suggestion No. 9: Positions of employment within the School District should be strictly limited to those positions promoting student achievement and supporting the personnel systems that provide those positions. Promotion of elected officials, appointed officials or programs that are “nice” but not directly related to student achievement should be eliminated from service and barred from future use.

Suggestion No. 10: All paid employees who hold responsibility for the overall success of programs, schools or district operations should be paid an honest salary for honest work and then offered incentives for successful accomplishment of key benchmarks directly related to the positive advancement of student achievement. Such benchmarks should not be easily achieved or they should be included in the expectations of the base position.

So, for those naysayers out there who say we are all talk and no suggestion, here ya go. Fire away.

We will gladly respond to your efforts to discredit our participation in exercising our first

Incompetency, Impotency and the Visionary

Where the hell is President Violetta Peters and the rest of the Board of Education on the question of Joe Ferraina?

What can we say? Once again, the Asbury Park Press has run an article superficially detailing the gross negligence of the Long Branch Board of Education in its handling of Superintendent Joseph “Mr. Visionary” Ferraina’s compensation but fails miserably at doing any investigating beyond internet searches and regurgitation of old news reports.

Ferraina needs to go and so does the Rubber Stamp Board of Education that allows his ego and his caprice run unabated and unrestricted through the Presidential City.

Ferraina is universally despised throughout the city’s decision making community for his arrogance and heavy-handedness. His use of city and state funds to silence dissenters, reward obedience, alienate employees and feed his own avarice is both well known and unconscionable.


They are either too stupid to see what everyone else sees OR they are complicit in his wrongdoing.

As we have said before, most, if not all of the Board members have family members on the Schools’ payroll so maybe they have no motivation to address these concerns.

Then again, there has not been a serious challenge (and in many years ANY challenge) to the incumbent board members in School Board elections.

We call on the Board of Education to make a decision on our Superintendent of Schools—they either have to declare themselves in favor of Mr. Ferraina and his $300,000+ annual compensation OR they have to oust him and start fresh with a new management team.

Anyone wanna take bets that they do nothing?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Take my Mission. PLEASE!

The Asbury Park Press continued their never ending Bataan Death March on Redevelopment today citing an appellate court ruling that the city was still within its rights to take 162 Broadway through eminent domain. 162 Broadway, for those of you who haven't had cause to do business there in the last 35 years or so, is the home of the world reknowned Lighthouse Mission run by Long Branch's own religious icon, the Reverend Kevin Brown.

Rev. Brown and his cathedral of chaos on Lower Broadway BOTH need to leave Long Branch. A look at this photograph would lead any sane person to the conclusion that this property meets the standard of "an area in need of redevelopment"--unless of course steel roll up doors on "churches" are now a religious symbol of some sort.

As the LBA has said in the past, we do not have a problem with redevelopment and eminent domain if it is being used for legitimate purposes. And clearly, any area of Lower Broadway is an area of in need of redevelopment.

We also are dubious that the Broadway Arts Center is a well conceived idea, but what the hell? Red Bank seems to thrive on the Count Basie Theater. Maybe we are missing something here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Threats and Posting

We have received many emails asking us why we havent posted anything in the last few weeks and the answer is simple: We have also received many nasty threatening emails challenging us to identify ourselves, only post facts with no opinions and generally to stop "picking" on city officials--elected and appointed.

SO, rather than get angry and get even we have chosen to lie low for a bit and let things fall where they may.

So, stay tuned, we PROMISE to post again, but for the time being, we have to keep our opinions (and facts) to ourselves.

IN THE MEAN TIME, we invite YOU to be a guest blogger here on the LBA. Send your post to longbranchadvocate@gmail.com in compliance with the following rules:

1. You must identify yourself to US, but we will honor your request to remain anonymous if you so choose.
2. You may choose any topic you like, so long as it advances the betterment of Long Branch (see our first post for the general blog rules.)
3. No unwarranted personal attacks on anyone.

Other than that, have at it!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thoughts on Street Sweeping

The street sweeper has been past the LBA offices within the last week or so and it occurred to us that the road was dirtier after the sweeper went by than it was beforehand. Upon closer inspection, one could easily see that there was a perfect, thin line of. . . well, MUD left in the wake of the Green Machine. The torrential downpour that followed several days later wiped it clean from the road, but it begs the question: If the street sweeper leaves the road muddy, what exactly is the benefit?

A question for the ages. . .

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thoughts on the Passing of Rev. Dr. Alfred C. Acer

Rev. Dr. Alfred C. Acer has died of a massive heart attack. He was the Senior Pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, the largest Lutheran congregation in Monmouth County.

Long a key figure in the public life of Long Branch and the surrounding area, Rev. Acer was active in many key community groups and was a strong proponent of cross-denominationational ecumenism.

Our condolences to his family, friends and his congregation.

Schneider & Unger: Learn to Work Together Like Grown Ups or Resign

Whether the citizens of the City of Long Branch know it or not, the darkest days of our municipality are upon us at this very moment.

The Asbury Park Press is reporting, and our Director of Public Safety is apparently confirming, that on Tuesday night, the Mayor of the City of Long Branch and one of our five Members of the City Council had to be physically separated in order to prevent a so-called “heated exchange” from escalating into an assault.

This is unavoidably, unequivocally, undeniably unacceptable behavior.

Rather than discuss the many varied reasons why this unacceptable, we will leave our analysis to three main theses:

1. The Success of our Republic requires the peaceful exchange of ideas between participants in the process of government.

2. It is not just the right of the people to question their leaders—it is also their obligation. Particularly in a town where we have already seen one of our elected officials arrested, indicted, found guilty and sent to jail for official misconduct.

3. Simply put, both Adam Schneider and Brian Unger know better.

If one or both of these men cannot get a hold of their proverbial horses and start acting like grown ups and individuals deserving of holding an office of public trust they owe it to themselves and to the people of the City of Long Branch to resign.

It is that serious, guys.

We cannot and will not tolerate behavior that is this outrageous from our public officials. People you BOTH consider to be your friends and supporters will absolutely abandon that support if you denigrate our municipal government to the point where police officers are needed to keep the peace between you.

We deserve better. And you damn well know it.

So either get it together right now or resign so we can fill your seat with someone who knows how to conduct themselves in a manner reflective of the sacred trust we the people place in those selected to run our government.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Redevelopment: Love it or Leave it.

Today’s Asbury Park Press had an article covering the agreement between the city and the developer down at Pier Village.

Clearly, both the Schneider and Unger teams have their confederates out commenting their little politically active hearts out on the APP.com website for the article. Unfortunately, the recent sideshow events regarding Councilman Unger’s alleged lies and coverup has dragged public discourse from the serious to the ridiculous--where we expect it will remain through the election next May.

So, since the commentators on APP.com seem interested in only attacking the primary actors in our little play and not addressing the serious topics in our little city, the LBA thought perhaps we would take our first foray into the topic of the article, redevelopment.

It is our position that the area flanking the Ocean Place Conference Center was, in fact, blighted before construction began on any phase of redevelopment, and was blighted for at least fifteen years prior. The “Great Pier Fire” of 1987 destroyed one of only two components of legitimate commerce on the entire oceanfront (can you name one other than the Sea Loft?) and even that was honky-tonk. The other area businesses were all related to the pier in one way or another. Immediately outside of the pier vicinity, the housing stock was more or less sub-par, new development was virtually non-existent and it was NOT an area anyone with any legitimate purposes would want to frequent either alone or after dark—and certainly not off-season.

As such, the use of eminent domain was not only justified, it was an appropriate use of the power given the condition of the blighted area.

We do not like seeing people’s property taken anymore than you do, but it was a blighted area in need of redevelopment. To think otherwise requires a revisionist approach to the historical realities of the city.

The city attempted to deal with this near-death blow on several occasions. Credit is due to then-Mayor Phil Huhn and his administration for not only landing the Ocean Place development but also laying the groundwork for a master plan for the beachfront. The recession of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s really brought the fruition of the master plan to a screeching halt but the Ocean Place complex was completed and opened in late 1990. Between 1990 and 1997, very little actual development took place, but much was happening behind the scenes as Mayor Schneider and his administration launched a serious and professional master approach to the beachfront area.

The rest, as they say, is history. The recession ended, the housing market exploded, times were good and people were happy.

Now that the first phases of redevelopment are complete and Pier Village and Beachfront North are now here, along with a new recession and a slumping housing market, the real estate market (not eminent domain) should dictate what properties are sold for and whether they are on the market in the first place. If redevelopment was successful then the area is no longer blighted and no longer in need of city-sponsored redevelopment.

Already, you are seeing signs that the market is driving even the city-sponsored redevelopment off course. The Broadway “arts” district seems to be off schedule, the Beachfront South district is remarkably off schedule and sales of the housing stock in Pier Village are sagging—despite the construction underway on Pier Village Phase II.

In any event, the partisans who are not contributing to the progress of the city and only to the progress of their candidate of choice are fighting on the APP.com.

You, however, have come to the one independent voice for honest discussion of the life and times of the City of Long Branch—the Long Branch Advocate!
One question from the article though: What money is being spent on the rest of town? Roads, sidewalks, improvements, anything? Let us hope the powers that be do not forget that most of us do not live in the redevelopment area. . . and we toughed it out during the dark days of the city. How about a little something for the dedication?